Eagles, Kings & Royals

September 5, 2020

West of you was trouble, turf battled over by Latin Eagles, Latin Kings, and a hillbilly gang called the Simon City Royals. Most every garage was tagged with graffito. It got worse every block. When the Cubs nearly did something right in 1969, Wrigleyville was a war zone. Latino gangsters literally stood on the sidewalks taunting fans or worse. If there wasn’t a game there was no reason to be there. If and when you ventured that direction, to catch a bus or visit the arcade, you stashed lunch money in your sock and a few bills in your pocket to pay off the muggers.

You’d accumulated a hodge-podge of friends, misfits like you, who hid in books and hobbies, and still others more doomed by their circumstances. Some would join gangs or defy them, always fighting or fleeing. Together you were a group of electrons in an unstable atom. Catching fish in the lake. Avoiding being caught in an alley. God only knows what glue held you together. Comic books. Films. Music. But soon came liquor, pills and weed; those false prophets that caused you so much pain while pretending to soften it. And through it all, those alluring and delirious creatures from distant, unobtainable shores, sirens that beckoned you to this day: Women.

More soon…


Tuneage!

I’ve gone on record stating my almost complete disdain for radio as an advertising medium. I’m not changing my tune. Unlike other mass media, for some reason the intrusion of commercials just bothers me more. Always has. Always will.

That said I admire well-written radio when I hear it, especially given how rare. Kudos then to my agency brothers in New York, Euro RSCG in winning several Gold Lions on radio for Dos Equis, “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Last year The Most Interesting Man barely eked out a bronze in TV but since then has become one of the more beloved characters in advertising, winning prizes here, there and everywhere. Not to mention actually selling mucho Dos Equis.

Good for him. He and the agency deserve all the credit in the world. If for nothing else creating (and selling through) the counter-intuitive copy line, “I don’t always drink beer but when I do I drink Dos Equis.” Anyone in this business knows how risk adverse clients are, especially when it comes to dissing their own categories! That Euro RSCG and Dos Equis (Heineken) put forth a hero who doesn’t “always drink beer” shows creative moxie. The fact that he’s an older man is also refreshing in the youth-obsessed spirits business. The campaign rocks. ‘Nuff said.

Back to radio as a medium. When I was a boy there were no Ipods and MP3s. (Fuck you, it wasn’t that long ago!). People, especially young people, listened to music on radios. Sure, the Sony Walkman would usher in portable, private listening but for a brief period of time, maybe thirty years, from 1955 to 1985, every teen-ager in America owned a radio. Many of these contraptions were souped up multi-platform music machines also known as “boom boxes.”

In the summer one couldn’t go anywhere, really, without hearing them. When my amigos and I headed to Montrose Harbor or, as we called it, “the Lake,” it was always someone’s job to bring the “tunes.” Not that we needed our own as just about every car and beach towel had music blasting from it. The sounds of summer were a cacophony of Top 40, Disco and Heavy Metal. Occasionally, we’d here a Cub’s game but it wasn’t long before our Zeppelin and Judas Priest blew the old dude right out of his green and white lawn chair.

If we weren’t playing cassettes, the station to listen to was WLUP, otherwise known as “the Loop.” Guys like Steve Dahl and Johnny B were hugely popular in the morning (both of these jocks remain relevant today, though barely). Yet, it was the tunes that mattered and few stations played our heavier brand of music more readily than the Loop: Van Halen, AC/DC, Rush, Aerosmith; funny how these bands still play and record. Back then they were Gods.

If I go back even further (before pot…before girls…before even puberty) I remember sleeping over at my best friend’s house, staying up super late, listening to weekend countdowns on WLS Music Radio. We lived for the call-in contests, where if you were such and such numbered caller you’d win a lame tee shirt. The prize wasn’t really the point, however. It was about hearing your self on the radio. If you were lucky they’d let you choose and dedicate the next song. The one time I got through I chose “Slow Ride” by Foghat. Dedicated it to Becky at Mather High.

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The swishiest fight song ever!

Despite growing up in the city of Chicago, and living here all my life, I am not a “super fan” of any our local sports teams. I like our teams but I don’t live and (mostly) die with them. And while I was raised only a few blocks from Wrigley Field, and passed it everyday on the Addison bus to Lane Tech High School, at that time the Cubs strain of sucking was particularly virulent. The losers hadn’t become quite so “loveable” yet. In addition, the neighborhood now trendily known as “Wrigleyville” was a fairly dangerous place, rife with Latino gang-bangers and transvestite prostitutes.

But I digress…

One aspect of Chicago sports I remember fondly is now making a spirited comeback. As is the team it belongs to. I’m referring to that wonderfully cheesy theme song for the resurgent Chicago Black Hawks: “Here come the Hawks!” The song was written by J. Swayzee and produced by the Dick Marx Orchestra and Choir in 1968. In the unlikely event you haven’t heard this gem, here it is, baby!

Here Come the Hawks!

Given how sugary and catchy this number is, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Dick Marx and his Orchestra were some of the most prolific advertising jingle makers of their time –of any time really. Credits include Ken-L-Ration’s “My dog is bigger than your dog,” Wrigley’s Doublemint chewing gum’s “Double your pleasure, double your fun,” Kellogg’s Raisin Bran’s “There’s two scoops of raisins in every package of,” and Dial Soap’s “Aren’t you glad you use Dial.” But my favorite from Marx’s “oeuvre” has to be the number they created for La Choy Foods; Sing it, kids: “La Choy makes Chinese Food…Swing American!” It’s ridiculously catchy, fun and silly –if not a tad politically incorrect.


The team behind the team’s jingle

The infectious spirit of all these jingles, particularly La Choy’s, permeates the giddy, sugar-coated “Here come the Hawks!” No, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. If ever that phrase applied to anything at all, it’s here.

Fun fact: 80’s pop star, Richard Marx (“Don’t mean Nothing” “Now and Forever”) is none other than the son of late composer, Dick Marx.

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